Olive Tapenade And Other Easy Things To Eat

Sometimes you just want something simple to eat that takes no time at all to make. One of our favourites is to stir a dairy-free pesto or tapenade into wheat-free pasta. You can buy a great black olive tapenade from Belazu (in most supermarkets in the posh food section) or go to www.belazu.com for stockists/mail order. M&S do a good one too. But it’s also very easy to make yourself:

Simply blitz some stoned green or black olives with some really good extra virgin olive oil in a processor or blender.  Season and use. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, try adding a couple of anchovies, a few capers and/or some fresh or dried herbs. Keep tasting as you go along and adjust as you need to – there is no right or wrong; just what you like.  

So, once you’ve got a jar made or in your store cupboard, what can you do with it?

Cook some pasta, drain and pop it back in the pan, then stir in a tablespoon or so of  tapenade. The heat of the pasta and pan will warm it through and that’s all you need to do. Sometimes I add a sprinkle of pine nuts too for some crunch.

Or, how about spreading some on toast or crackers and topping with tomato or cucumber, using it as a dip for crudités, combining it with a little more olive oil for a salad dressing, coating some fish or lamb cutlets with it before baking in the oven with a few vine tomatoes or stirring it into risotto? All so easy and full of flavour. You can do all those with a pesto too. There are some more recipes on the Belazu site so have a play and enjoy.

Whilst I think about it, another favourite easy product to use is Giant Greek Beans in Tomato Sauce. I get mine from M&S or the traditional greek ones in tins from healthfood shops (Mossley and Warwick healthfood stores both do them). They really are delicious and a simple dish is often half a jar of these combined with rice, pasta or salad. Go find some…One day I shall come up with a recipe for them and let you know.

A good, healthier alternative to pasta we have been experimenting with recently is courgette ribbons. Simply use a peeler and slice lengthways to get long ribbons of courgette and then cook them in water like you would pasta until they are just soft (a few minutes). You could steam them too, I expect, but I haven’t tried that yet so let me know if it works.

Lastly, coconut chilli vegetables are becoming a bit of a fave. Simple but very tasty. Chop some garlic and chilli and sweat down in a little olive oil, add some diced sweet potato and courgette and stir around for a couple of minutes. Then add whatever veg you have to hand. I used chopped up green beans and asparagus the other day which worked great. Pour in some coconut milk (about two thirds of a tin for two of you) and then pop the lid on the pan and cook for a few minutes until all the veg is ready. Season and serve on top of some brown rice making sure you use all the coconut milk to make the rice quite soupy. Delicious. I used lots of chilli and it was pretty hot which we like but adjust it, or use herbs like basil, if you want a more Summery feel instead.

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